Chronicles of a Catholic Housewife | Carmen Hartono

by | Feb 20, 2019 | Featured Article | 2 comments

Does everything have a purpose? Can one find meaning in the most insignificant ant? Questions such as these arose as I pondered a photograph I took while strolling along the Singapore Botanical Garden.

Focused on the light filtering through the leaves, I saw a tiny ant making her way from the darkness into the light. I decided to make this little creature the symbol for the book ‘Chronicles of a Catholic Housewife: Forty Years Toward the Promised Land.’ And now, thanks to Reader’s Magnet Authors’ Lounge, I can share my thoughts further with you.

The book ‘Chronicles’ tells not only my personal story, but also searches for value in everyday moments. If one can find significance in a little ant, one can find meaning in every encountered thought and action.

With the title ‘Catholic Housewife,’ I affirm that the sublime can be found in simple activities. I would have felt lost on my forty-year journey had I not recorded every experience as a reflection of a deeper reality.

All of us share a universal quest to find joy in life. The book I wrote chronicles forty years into seven chapters. But with this article for Authors’ Lounge, I want to focus on the middle chapter. The first three chapters cover twenty years, as do the last three chapters. But chapter four (‘Joy Amidst Sorrow: Good Grief’) documents only a few days.

I will never forget the day I received the phone call which every parent dread. Our 13-year old son, who had gone out for a bike ride with his friend, had been taken to emergency. When I arrived at the hospital, the social worker asked me for, among other things, the name of a priest. I automatically gave her the name of our pastor, but could not understand why she asked for a priest. In my mind, my son Nick was going to be okay. When the priest arrived and saw the unrealistic expectation in my eyes, he gently stated, “Nick is now with God.”

“But we can pray!” I quickly contended. Filled with compassion, the priest took my hands and prayed, “Jesus, you raised Lazarus from the dead …” His words pierced my heart like a sword. I felt as powerless as that ant crawling along a tender vine.

“I have your husband on the phone!” the social worker came in to announce. As the wife of a ship’s engineer, I had always been able to handle life’s everyday problems by myself. But for the first time in my life, I needed to have my husband by my side. “You need to come home,” were the only words I could muster to say. The emergency call went out, the ship was turned toward the shore where a helicopter brought him to a port, then a train ride to the nearest airport in Japan. The trip would take three days. Three days for me to pray for a resurrection.

“Nick would want to do the right thing,” my husband told me after assessing Nick’s condition and meeting with a panel of 8-10 doctors. The medical group left the room and my husband asked a nurse to turn off the lights. Alone, we held each other in the dark. “Donating Nick’s organs will save lives,” he continued. “Saving lives is the right thing to do.” I had repeatedly been told that the only light out of this profound darkness was organ donation. I finally resigned myself and signed to donate Nick’s vital organs. Little did I know that part of the resurrection for which I had prayed involved the organ donation I had resisted.

I am not going to give away how Our Lord led me out of the depth of sorrow, of how I again found joy in my life. But I will say that in 13 short years, Nick experienced a lifetime of goodness. Plus, I am convinced that his life continues in heaven. And I know I would not have been able to protect him from the ills of the world forever. The priest was right. Nick is now forever in the care of Our Heavenly Father. And as a mother, what more can I want for my child?

Nick fulfilled his purpose in life. But it took me forty years to find God’s objective for me. Please know, dear reader, that God has a very special intention for you and for every human being on the planet.

The middle chapter of the book ‘Chronicles’ defines my life. Now I can see how I desired to return to a metaphorical Egypt in the first 20 years of the story. I wanted to return to a familiar, comfortable past. After losing my son, I could have tried even harder to recreate my past. But instead, I chose to put my entire life into the hands of God and let Him lead me. During the first twenty years I walked forward but always looked back. During the second twenty years, I only looked forward toward a mysterious promised land.

I invite all readers of Authors’ Lounge to Like ‘Catholic Housewife’ on Facebook. You can learn more about the book on


  1. Hans

    It’s wonderful how a simple creature can inspire someone to write such a wonderful book.

    • Hummer

      And it’s about religious, as well! Perhaps, it’s the power of God within us?


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